Connecting state and local government leaders

Survey Finds Frayed Relations in Michigan Between Local Governments and State

Lansing, Michigan

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Connecting state and local government leaders

The latest Michigan Public Policy Survey included responses from local government officials from 1,315 jurisdictions in the Great Lakes State.

Relationships between Michigan’s local governments and the state are showing signs of strain, according to newly released results from a survey of local public officials.

Seventy percent of respondents said the state is taking away too much authority from local governments, about two-thirds said the state holds local jurisdictions to higher standards than it has for itself and 57 percent said the state favors some localities over others.

These and other findings were presented in the Fall 2016 Michigan Public Policy Survey, conducted by the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan.

The results of the twice-annual assessment, published this week, are based on feedback from local leaders in 1,315 jurisdictions across the state. Responses came from government officials such as mayors, clerks, village presidents, county administrators and township supervisors.

Of the officials surveyed, 49 percent rated their jurisdiction’s overall relationship with the state government “fair” or “poor.”

The survey results suggest that intergovernmental relationships could be improved if state officials reached out to their local counterparts more frequently for input and feedback and if the state increased the amount of revenue flowing to local governments.

“Across the country there appears to be a growing tension between states and many of their local governments, with more and more state governments preempting local authority on a range of policy issues,” the report describing the survey results notes.

Some examples the report mentions of areas where local government actions around the U.S. have been blocked by states include the adoption of anti-discrimination laws, bans on plastic bags and the regulation of app-based ride-booking services like Uber and Lyft.

A full copy of the report can be found here.

Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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